Photo courtesy of Melody Dockery.

Spring explodes with the promise of new hope, and there’s never been a spring more anticipated than this year. The last frost in Preston Hollow was forecasted for March 12, and I’m giddy with gardening plans to celebrate the season. The only cure I’ve discovered for spring fever is to pick up a shovel and dig in! My top three easy backyard projects for nature enthusiasts to launch today are a culinary garden, a hummingbird garden and a cutting garden.

What could be easier than picking up a variety of herbs and tomato transplants from a neighborhood garden center?

Clear and prep a sunny, well-drained spot with afternoon shade, and enjoy snipping aromatic herbs for cooking all season. I love using lavender and rosemary in cut flower arrangements. Container herb gardens are practical, but require just a little extra watering. My favorite herbs to grow in our area include varieties of basil, rosemary, sage, lavender and thyme. I’m dreaming of fresh pesto and pasta sauce at this very moment. Mint is a must in every culinary garden. It’s easy to grow and refreshing in everything from tabbouleh to iced tea. Just be sure to contain the mint – it’s an intrusive neighbor and will dominate the garden. I’m partial to cherry tomatoes: sweet, juicy little flavor bombs that continue to produce throughout the season.

Migrating hummingbirds refuel in our Preston Hollow oasis in mid-March and circle back in August and September. I’ve never needed a feeder to attract the feisty travelers, and ruby-throated hummingbirds keep me on their flight path every year, leaving my garden with five-star reviews. Their favorite plant varieties: salvia, Turk’s cap, trumpet vine (cross vine) and yellow bells. Keep a fresh water source as well for your jet-lagged guests. If you love geeking out about hummingbirds, you’ll find the knowledgeable pros at North Haven Gardens are “birds of a feather” with all the plants and advice needed.

There is something life-affirming about planting seeds and experiencing the whole sprout, grow-and-bloom process.

My “absolutely cannot fail” flower from seed pick is Zinnias. Resplendent with happy colors and sentimental charm, they grow easily in our area. Pick up seed packs at a local garden center or order them from wildseedfarm.com. Prep the soil in a sunny, well-drained patch. Literally scatter the seeds and lightly step on them (no digging or covering with soil). Keep the area moist until you witness the miracle of life: tiny sprouts bursting forth from the earth in about seven to 10 days. I confess, it’s painful at first, but sacrifice some of your offspring and thin out the little sprouts – leaving room for air circulation and ample space for the rainbow of blooms that will supply a surplus of cut flowers throughout the summer and early fall. For a prolonged display and vases full of color throughout the summer, plan sequential plantings every two to four weeks.

Start with one inspiration or tackle them all. Embrace this sea- son of renewal in the garden!


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